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US – MGM finances Schaghticoke tribe to challenge third Connecticut casino

By - 10 March 2016

MGM Resorts has teamed up with the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation to try and thwart plans to give a third casino licence in Connecticut to the two operators who are currently running casinos there.

MGM is reportedly financing the Schaghticoke tribe to help in its opposition. Both the tribe and MGM have now filed lawsuits claiming it is unlawful to just give the tribes that own Connecticut’s current casinos; the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun instead of launching a tender to see who should develop a commercial, off-reservation casino.

The sole aim of the third casino is to prevent the flow of potential players to a new US$950m MGM casino across the state border in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Schaghticoke Chief Richard Velky said: “The State has a long history of discriminating against the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. Recently, the State fought our federal recognition, supposedly because they didn’t want another casino in Connecticut. Now Connecticut wants to open a new casino, but only if the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation doesn’t get an opportunity to submit a proposal to operate it.”
He demanded the bill be amended so that the Schaghticokes were ‘given equal consideration for any future commercial casino in Connecticut.’

MGM said it is ready and able to compete to build a casino of its own in Connecticut but was unfairly excluded from the running.
The state’s current casino operators, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe have united to form the MMCT Venture.
It said: “After weeks of not returning phone calls from reporters, Chief Velky finally revealed that his operation is being bankrolled by MGM. This startling revelation, which according to the chief was a year in the making, should raise a red flag for anyone who is concerned about MGM’s plan to steal jobs from Connecticut residents.”
MGM has released research that claims any third casino should be in the Bridgeport area in southwestern Connecticut.

The legal challenge from the Schaghticokes came in a week when MMCT released a 25-second digital ad which highlights how Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun both use local businesses as suppliers.

The ad stated: “Let the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes build a new casino at their own expense. Connecticut jobs depend on it.”
The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans are believed to be looking at potential sites in East Hartford, Hartford and Windsor Locks, having rejected the idea of building the third casino in East Windsor.

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